Last Updated 14/10/06



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Is Council About To 'Come A Gutser' As A Fatal Flaw In The Original Gisborne Call Centre Permit Is Exposed?  Permit Under Formal Legal Challenge - Applicant Could Be Forced To Start Again

(30/9/06 - P)  But no sense of danger as "back-flip with pike and double-twist" by Crs. Letchford and Relph ensures Mayor's rescission motion gets up and the trail of Council blunders continues.

The Gisborne Call Centre debacle continued at last Wednesday's Council meeting.  Examples of Council 'dropping the ball' are already substantial (e.g. no community consultation, a rolling series of significant amendments, behind closed doors decision-making, councillors walking out, a late objection ignored, a meeting without standing orders, minutes opposed as incorrect, etc.), but the clanger Cr. Rob Guthrie (South) dropped out last Wednesday produced the same shocked, absolute silence the passing of a death sentence does.


Background:  Two weeks ago (13 September), an attempt to move this mess forward by fobbing off responsibility for Permit Amendments 3 and 4 by delegating decisions to Council officers fell over when Crs. John Letchford and Helen Relph (both South ward) abandoned their previous support for the development and voted (with Crs. Gyorffy, Guthrie and McGregor) to advise the developer that Council required a new permit process if he wanted to go as far as Amendment number 4. See earlier MRRA reportMayor Geoff Neil (East), who opposed the "starting again" motion, subsequently whipped in a rescission motion to overturn the 13th September motion, and the rescission was up for approval last Wednesday night.


Wednesday 27th September:  Enter Crs. Letchford and Relph with their award-winning backflip, with Cr. Letchford in sensational form as he seconded motions to firstly consider the Call Centre application, and then to rescind the 13 September 'start again' resolution (er... a resolution he also seconded!).   Mayor Geoff Neil (East) said the 13 September motion was flawed - i.e. Council couldn't instruct the applicant to resubmit the application, and it didn't state what type of advertising process would be done.  Cr. Tom Gyorffy (West) replied saying there is no need to specify the advertizing process because Section 52 of the Planning and Environment Act follows as a matter of course, and the motion was perfectly OK.  He added that Council could simply say 'NO, you're not getting Amendment 4 - you put in a new application'.   He defied anyone to tell him where this permit was up to, and said Council was considering bits without looking at the whole.  He, along with Crs. Rob Guthrie (South) and Sandra McGregor (East), opposed the rescission but it was approved on the votes of Crs. Letchford (South), Relph (South), Harvey (West), Neil (East), Bleeck (East) and Connor (West).


Having got rid of the motion to 'start again', next came a motion to crank the Call Centre forward again: Part A of the motion in the circulated meeting papers dealt with Amendment 3 and the permit for it issued in August without considering an objection Council had received. It included a recommendation to cancel that permit at VCAT and issue a new amended permit after 'considering' the objection (Note: Part A also included the new amended permit for approval).  Part B approved Amendment 4 (without resolving Amendment 3).  Part C said that if an appeal is lodged at VCAT Council would adopt Amendment 4 as its position.


The Mayor stepped up to the plate and moved yet another alternative motion, that Part B alone of the officer's recommendations be adopted, and he was seconded by Cr. Noel Harvey (West).  The Mayor told Councillors they didn't need to debate the merits, they just needed to determine Amendment 4 which was substantially better than Amendment 3 (Council had had legal advice). 


Cr. Rob Guthrie (South) opposed, and dropped a bombshell.  He began by saying he had been going over what Council had done.  There were 3 permit triggers - Use, Parking, and amending a development plan.  In December 2005 Council looked at refusing 14 shops on the site but instead deferred making a decision.  When that application later came back to Council, changes had been made and the shops were approved with stringent conditions on the development plan.  He couldn't find those conditions on the permit issued in May 2006.  He couldn't make sense of the May Planning Committee minutes either - until he read the officer's recommendation, Part A of which was to change the development plan from that approved in December, and Part B the permit that was to issue.  However on 24 May, Council had received an alternative Part B on the night that didn't include Part A (the necessary change to the development plan).  Council went on to approve the permit (Part B), but not Part A, the changed development plan that needed to be approved before Council could issue a permit. That is, unless Council changed the development plan it couldn't issue a permit.  Cr. Guthrie said the development plan had not been amended since December and so Council shouldn't have issued a permit in May.  The permit was illegal.  As for giving notice, planning scheme exemptions from giving notice didn't apply to the Use or development plan permit triggers, so the argument that Council didn't need to give notice are flawed.


Cr. Tom Gyorffy (West) stood and said all permits (amendments) were invalid - if it doesn't comply, you get nothing.  He said he had been sending emails around to Councillors telling them the permit was invalid.  There were also problems with parking - it was less than half what the planning scheme wants.  The whole thing was a disaster because all the way through people had only kept an eye on getting 300 jobs in Gisborne.  He thundered that Council was here for the planning scheme, not an economic scheme, and still hasn't asked the public what they want.  He said the situation can only be fixed by starting again. The permit is illegal, the motion is not supportable, and Council shouldn't continue down that path.  Cr. Gyorffy then asked if the legal advice obtained by Council, which said Council could approve Amendment 4, had been made in the knowledge that Council had failed to amend the development plan in May, and was told no-one knew.


The room was very quiet as the Mayor spoke, awkwardly trying to justify the shortfall in parking spaces, saying legal opinions vary (Cr. Gyorffy told him to make sure he picked the right one), and saying one of the reasons he liked the call centre was because it would give the Gisborne business sector renewed life. He urged Councillors to endorse Part B as a way forward that was supported by officers and legal advice.  And he got that endorsement from Crs. Noel Harvey, John Letchford, Henry Bleeck, Helen Relph and John Connor.


Crs. Tom Gyorffy, Rob Guthrie and Sandra McGregor opposed.


The Mayor then moved another, previously unannounced motion, that Council give delegated authority to Ms Veronica Schilling to consider and amend the permit Council had just voted to issue - minor amendments only, nothing of substance.  Cr. John Letchford seconded the motion.  Cr. Tom Gyorffy opposed, quickly standing and saying it was outrageous to consider even more changes.  He said there were 'hundreds' of problems with the proposal - carparks, bits of verandah overhangs that would be taken off by trucks and so on.  How many more goes was the applicant going to get?  He said it was a joke, and the applicant should be told there would be no more chances without going through hoops.


Nevertheless, the same old voting block - Letchford, Relph, Neil, Connor, Bleeck, Harvey - passed the motion to delegate, and the same Councillors opposed: Gyorffy, Guthrie McGregor.


Cr. John Letchford Says 'Put The Gisborne Call Centre In The Gisborne Industrial Estate'

(12/9/06 - P)  Sounds easy, until you look at the planning scheme...

It was interesting to see Cr. John Letchford's recent suggestion, in a local newspaper, that what he apparently now calls the 'huge and suburban' Gisborne Call Centre proposal should go into the Gisborne Industrial Estate.  Easy-peasy.  Sadly, the Gisborne Industrial Estate is within an Industrial 1 zone.  Even sadder, that zone prohibits offices with more than 500 square metres of floor space.  Tragically, according to the 24 May 2006 Council officer's report, the Call Centre (on its own) had a floor space of more than 3,000 square metres making it  - oops! - a prohibited use in the Gisborne Industrial Estate.


MRRA Says:

Although only 'planning hacks' in Cr. Letchford's eyes, MRRA does read the Shire's planning scheme.  We had every confidence planner John - the rising star - would nut it out too...  Ah well, better luck next time.


Of course the other option would be to 'down-size'  the proposal so it can fit in the Industrial 1 zone.  Now let's see: if there was originally a maximum of 80 people for 3,000 square metres, wouldn't that work out in rough terms at around 20-odd people for 500 square metres' floorspace in the Industrial Estate?   Hmm... maybe not so many people (or jobs?), and not such a good idea, after all.


"Pinball Wizard" Performances As Councillors Go With Top Dollar For Councillor Allowances

(10/6/06 - C)   Silence reigns during MRRA's presentation and the decision

MRRA president Neil Manning and secretary Christine Pruneau appeared before Council at its Finance and Operations committee meeting last Wednesday putting a case for a reduction in the Mayoral allowance, for more information on 'other benefits', and for definition of and community consultation on a Mayor's role.  It was the first time residents in Macedon Ranges had been invited to comment on Councillor allowances, and MRRA's was the only submission.  Council's decision to go with the highest allowances available for Councillors and Mayor sets the scene for the next 3 years (previously Councillors reviewed allowances annually).  So residents are now stuck with top dollar payments until a new Council is elected in 2008.


MRRA Says:

No Councillors had any questions for MRRA at the conclusion of its presentation (note: Cr. Gyorffy was absent).  In fact, it seems no-one was interested in saying anything at all because there was no debate and no objection, with the motion (moved Cr. Harvey, seconded Cr. Letchford) going through unopposed.


We are left to wonder if the decision had been made elsewhere or earlier, and simply played out in stony silence in chamber (although after the vote, Cr. Neil made some suggestion that perhaps people aren't aware of a Mayor's workload and perhaps it should be defined, and Cr. Letchford seemed to suggest Council charge members of the press for meals and drinks to help offset costs of 'other benefits' provided to Councillors).


MRRA didn't get the feeling that our comments were being taken on board as constructive.  Hey, they didn't even want to talk about it.  And Council wonders why people don't bother making submissions... Wonder no more.


The Letchford Comments


Cr. Letchford's comments about the press riled Mr. Don Gunn of the Midland Express and Kyneton Guardian, who made his feelings clear in last Friday's Guardian:

Cr. Letchford then took the opportunity to launch an extraordinary attack on members of the press who cover Council.  He pointed out that Council provided food in the form of meals on meeting nights and drinks after meetings, and this was part of the costs council had to bear in its operations.  After the meeting I pointed out to the Mayor Geoff Neil, that as a senior member of the press gallery I found Cr. Letchford's remarks offensive, because of an implication that the press 'gathered at the trough' at the expense of ratepayers, and the further implication of an implicit obligation involved in accepting council hospitality.


Our reporters only accept specific invitations from the Mayor, or Chief Executive, to attend councillor dinners.  Usually the reason is that there is a guest speaker (such as the recent visit by VCAT chief, Justice Stuart Morris) the reporters can ask questions of.  In my own case, I can only recall about 5 such dinners in the past 4 years I have attended.

MRRA knows who it would rely on having their facts right.  Good for you, Don.



Council In Uproar With Claim Of Recycled "Bullies" Trying To Take Control

(30/5/06 - E)  Cr. Tom Gyorffy calls for Mayor (Geoff Neil) and Crs Noel Harvey and John Letchford to resign

It has been a fairly tempestuous week in local politics, but the explosion has been brewing since Council elections last November. Cr. Geoff Neil, whom MRRA called on in March to resign as Mayor and who has built something of a reputation for putting a foot or two in his mouth since he was re-elected, went full on into Councillors Guthrie and Gyorffy at last week's Council meeting, suspending standing orders to do so.  It seems the Mayor, Cr.Noel Harvey and Cr. John Letchford were fairly adamant that the two 'G's (Guthrie and Gyorffy) are responsible for a cost (?) of $160,000 to Council because they were supposedly parties to a recent enforcement hearing at VCAT.  The hearing was instigated by a community group contesting Council's ability to provide sufficient parking spaces to meet VCAT requirements for the Kyneton Bowling Club pokies expansion.  Seems the Council triumvirate were fairly set on trying to put those two 'upstarts' very publicly back in their places - that is, on the outer and outside the circle of power at Council. It's just a pity one or the other of the aggressors didn't check their facts before lurching into it.


For example, Crs. Guthrie and Gyorffy were actually called as witnesses at VCAT (i.e. they weren't 'parties' to the hearing); the Mayor's version of 'costs' apparently includes compensation to Council for losses incurred through delays to construction claimed to have been caused by the VCAT hearing (the only problem with that is Council only got the green light from Minister Hulls and Heritage Victoria to go ahead a week or so ago -  well after the VCAT decision was handed down).


It's also a pity those behaving as if they were the Three Musketeers didn't duplicate Cr. Guthrie's concern for behaving in a manner more redolent of the Councillor's Code of Conduct.  Or is that just so much paper?


MRRA Says:


Beam us up, Scottie...


Now let's see:  Is a Council chamber a place where Councillors who aren't liked by grand-standing self-proclaimed powerbrokers and/or control fiends go to be baited and berated?


Are some of our Councillors trying to take Council back to the horrible ways it was (in)famous for before some of our present Councillors were thrown out by the people in 2003?  Are we back in 2002 when a former Councillor publicly criticized Noel Harvey for bullying?   Do we have a 'kitchen cabinet' operating, as was suspected back in the dark old days when some of our present representatives were last Councillors?  Are decisions made behind closed doors at afternoon briefing sessions by whoever happens to attend?


Is this where democracy is at in Macedon Ranges?  Is this where you want it to be?


Some members of this 'new' Council have already 'distinguished' themselves by blaming Gisborne residents for over-development at Helensville; is the community again to be blamed for everything the majority of our Councillors get wrong?


Are we overdosing on testosterone?  Will self-promoting publicity stunts make a comeback (can we ever forget that photograph of a former Mayor inside a trolley bin)?   As arrogance increases, will the community be subjected to ever-increasing doses of the mushroom treatment?  It was last time around...


 We hate to say it, but MRRA did try to alert the community when it assigned zero stars to Noel Harvey (0) and John Letchford (0), and only one star to Geoff Neil (1), before last November's Council election.  The types of behaviours that are now coming to light, with which MRRA was already familiar, played a key role in determining how many stars candidates received.  Click here to see how MRRA rated candidates.


Council's Rescission Motion To Destroy Clarkefield Hall - Was It Legal?

(9/5/06 - C)   Process flaunted?  Motion doesn't appear to meet Local Law requirements

When Macedon Ranges' Councillors voted 7 to 1 (Cr. Guthrie opposed) to rescind a two year old resolution to defer demolition of Clarkefield Hall, they seem to have stepped right outside their own meeting and process rules.  It started when Cr. Henry Bleeck moved the rescission motion (seconded Cr. Letchford).  But Cr. Bleeck hadn't included all of the original motion, which Cr. Guthrie pointed out was in two parts. Cr. Bleeck had only moved to rescind part 1 of the original (to defer demolition) while part 2 related to making the Hall safe and secure.  The Councillors then decided to simply add the second part of the original motion to the rescission motion as an amendment (moved Cr. Neil, seconded Cr. Letchford), and voted to demolish Clarkefield Hall (Cr. Guthrie opposed, Cr. Gyorffy absent).  


MRRA Says:

Funny things, rescission motions.  There are lots of rules that apply. Here's the notice of motion from the 27 April 2006 Council meeting agenda (note, Council minutes are not yet available from Council's website):


Notice of Rescission No. 08/2006 – Cr Henry Bleeck


That the resolution of Council made on 21 April 2004, in relation to the demolition of Clarkefield Hall  viz,

  1.  That Council defer the demolition of the Clarkefield Hall pending the completion of the Macedon Ranges Cultural Heritage and Landscape Study 1994 heritage amendment process be rescinded,
  2. And if so rescinded, that Council resolve to proceed with the demolition of Clarkefield Hall.


Whereas the original 21/4/04 motion was as follows:


It was moved by Cr Gee seconded by Cr Guthrie that Council;

  1. Defer the demolition of the Clarkefield Hall pending the completion of the Macedon Ranges Cultural Heritage and Landscape Study 1994 heritage amendment process, and
  2. Undertake the basic remedial and safety works to the hall as identified by the Council Building Surveyor to make it safe and secure.

The motion was put and carried.  Cr Guthrie requested a division.

For : Cr’s Petrovich, Guthrie, Gee, Dunn and Todd (5)

Against : Cr’s Connor, Evans, Carroll and Morabito (4)  CARRIED



The first rule about rescission motions is that they aren't allowed (can't happen) if the original motion has been acted on.


Local Law No. 5 - Meetings and Common Seal, says at 90, "A decision will be deemed to be acted on upon once its details have been formally communicated to persons affected by or reliant on the resolution or where a statutory procedure has been carried out as a result of that decision."


MRRA isn't aware of any report that went to Council advising that the original motion hadn't been 'communicated to or acted on' as per the terms of Local Law 5.  The original motion was two years old.  Has it been acted on?


Council is preparing two amendments (C33 - Precincts, and C34 - Other Areas) to place heritage overlays in the planning scheme, including overlays arising from the Macedon Ranges Cultural Heritage and Landscape Study.  In the Macedon Ranges Cultural Heritage and Landscape Study, the Clarkefield Hall is part of a heritage precinct (Clarkefield Civic, Commercial and Residential Precinct), such as those being addressed in Amendment C33.   Has the motion been acted on?


If it hasn't, particularly part 2, MRRA would like to know why, in two years, basic steps to secure the hall hadn't been taken.


Even if the hurdle of whether the motion had been acted on can be overcome, there still remains the issue of whether the Council could do what it did:


Local Law 5 says, at 95, "A notice of... rescission listed on a meeting agenda may be moved by any councillor present but cannot be amended."


What do you think?  Have our Councillors acted in a proper and responsible way?  Please give us your comments by sending an email on


'Recycled' Councillors Blame Residents For Disastrous Development At Helensville

(19/4/06 - P)  Cowardly but not necessarily unexpected finger-pointing as Councillors ignore the role they played

At last Wednesday's Planning Committee meeting, in debate relating to an application to carve up the last of Helensville in Gisborne, three of our 'recycled' Councillors (Letchford, Harvey and Neil) made it very clear that the cramped, towering over-development that now blights the once beautiful Helensville site was very firmly the fault of residents who objected to the original proposal.  According to our recycled Councillors, self serving, self-important residents should have accepted a compromise, and the result of not doing that was a 'shocking mess'.  Cr. Noel Harvey went so far as to say he wasn't prepared to put his name to any further disastrous development on the site (isn't it just a bit late for that?).   Councillors Neil, Relph, Letchford, McGregor, Bleeck and Connor voted for the subdivision, Councillors Harvey and  Gyorffy opposed.  Councillor Guthrie declared an interest and left the chamber.


MRRA Says:

Well, well - see them duck for cover.  What gall these pompous, short-memoried Councillors have, to blame several hundred residents for objecting to what they (the Councillors) now call 'shocking' and 'disastrous'.  Hello????  Who supported and approved the original proposals, saying what a great thing these developments were, how we had to have somewhere for people to live?  Not the objectors.  Who ignored the repetitive broad hints from numerous VCAT decisions (note: both approvals and refusals), that Council should produce a plan for how the once-rural Helensville site should be developed and integrated with the rest of the Gisborne Township?  That wasn't the objectors either.  IT WAS OUR COUNCILLORS.  Councillors who had six years to prepare a plan.  Councillors who wouldn't listen to the people, who just couldn't see what hundreds in the Macedon Ranges' community could see was coming.  So, Councillors, instead of attacking those who put in a huge amount of time and money and effort and emotion trying to convince you to change your mind, isn't it time you starting taking responsibility and being accountable for the decisions (and disasters) you make?


Councillors Say No To Native Vegetation Removal - All Except Councillor Letchford, That Is

(19/4/06 - P)  Seems the 'Rising Star' couldn't get off the ground this time on protecting our environment


MRRA Says:

In an, um, almost unanimous decision at last Wednesday's Planning Committee meeting, Cr. Connor took the running on an application to refuse native vegetation removal on a lot at Ballymoyer Mews, Ashbourne Road, Woodend.  Those of you who know this Tomkinson development would be aware of just how much clearing has already occurred, and how a new two storey house towering over tiny, historic Peel Cottage seems somehow completely out of step with the surrounding area.  There is a restrictive covenant on some titles in this subdivision prohibiting further vegetation removal without Council consent.  Only one Councillor thought more vegetation should be removed: "cut them down, there's only 4 or 5 of them".  Yep, Council's 'qualified planner',  Councillor John Letchford.   The trunk on one of these trees was more than a metre in diameter.  What can we say?  'Meteoric'.


Macedon Ranges Councillors Defy Planning Scheme Again To Get House Approved In Farming Zone

(19/4/06 - P) Cr. Noel Harvey admits he knows the officer's recommendation to refuse is right, but says yes to development anyway

Macedon Ranges' planning woes continued at last Wednesday's Planning Committee meeting when most of our Councillors again went for another house in a rural zone, in a drinking water catchment.  This time the application came from a relative of a Council staffer (see earlier story).  The officer's report said 'refuse'.  But... working on the nice people, good idea, lovely spot principle - how could anyone refuse?  Cr. Noel Harvey even admitted the proposal was contrary to the Farming zoning, and the officer was quite right in saying not to approve, but that didn't stop him supporting the proposal in the proclaimed Lake Eppalock drinking water catchment, notwithstanding his membership of the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water Boards.  The only opposition came from Councillor Tom Gyorffy who, faced with the applicants' arguments about their financial situation, said money was not a good enough reason to overturn the planning scheme.  Note:  Cr. Guthrie was absent.


Councillor Letchford Bites Back

(18/3/06 - M)  MRRA is the 'faceless few', he's the 'rising star' - see what else he says

MRRA Says:

Cr. John Letchford has flashed in an email making it clear he doesn't agree with our story "Cr. John Letchford - Is He Breaking Promises - And Hearts?" (10/3/06).  That's fair enough, he's entitled to his opinion, as we are to ours.   MRRA is pretty chuffed that John is looking at the site, although we are downright surprised that John doesn't seem aware of restrictions the Privacy Act places on publishing an organisation's membership details.  We aren't standing in the shadows John, we are obeying the law. Anyway, after deep thought, MRRA's Committee of Management feels John's response should be shared with visitors to our website.  Stop Press:  John's bitten again!  We've just got a second email...   Click here to go there... 


Cr. John Letchford:  Is He Breaking Promises - And Hearts?

(10/3/06 - C)  MRRA is confused by the mixed messages John is sending

On the one hand, Cr. John Letchford, who claimed to be a qualified planner in his Candidate Statement last year, said in that Statement that "My focus is on... neighbourhood character protection..."  That was before the election which saw John Letchford the first councillor elected in the South Ward.  On the other hand, at last Wednesday's Council Planning Committee meeting, Cr. Letchford said neighbourhood character is not to be slavishly followed before voting to approve an application to subdivide an acre lot in Romsey into 4 quarter acre lots in an otherwise 1 acre block neighbourhood.  He said the subdivision fit with the planning scheme and referred to ResCode.  He went on to say planning wasn't black and white, and needed to be interpreted.  Cr. Noel Harvey also supported the application saying the four lot subdivision would actually add to the neighbourhood character and further said small lots are needed to conserve water.  Cr. Helen Relph, who seems consistent in supporting small(er) lot development, said it was a great outcome for the applicant.  Cr. Henry Bleeck, who also supported the proposal, felt people don't look after big blocks and this leads to land degradation.  Mayor Geoff Neil almost begged his fellow Councillors to not support the application and he found support from Crs. Gyorffy, Guthrie Connor and McGregor.  The application was refused on a 5/4 split.


MRRA Says:

We thought protecting neighbourhood character was a primary requirement of ResCode.  MRRA can't see, and we suspect most of the people in Gisborne who voted for Cr. Letchford also won't be able to see, how creating 4 quarter acre lots in an ocean of acre lots delivers the "neighbourhood character protection" he promised.  MRRA is uneasy about where Cr. Letchford is coming from.  He has already said in Council chamber, in supporting subdivision of another existing residential lot in Romsey, that large lots are not sustainable. Hhmm...  Is it that John just doesn't like Romsey?  Does he in fact hold a different view than the one expressed in his Candidate Statement?   Does he not understand what the Macedon Ranges' community values?  We don't know, but we do know that larger lots are a characteristic of Macedon Ranges that residents value highly, and are a key reason why most people move here.  It will be interesting to see if Cr. Letchford applies the same 'I support small lots' principle when a similar application comes in from Gisborne.


We also note that Cr. Harvey's justification for supporting the application, that of conserving water, is similar to advice given to MRRA by Western Water in 2004: e.g. units are good because they have (almost) no gardens so use less water.  Has the thought occurred to anyone, as existing lots are carved up and units are jammed in, that those developments mean more people, which in itself means more demand on scarce water supplies - with or without gardens?  In most parts of the Shire, we already haven't got enough to go around.  As for Cr. Harvey's comment that slicing up a lot like this, in a neighbourhood like this, would add character - well, what can we say other than it seems to say it all about where Cr. Harvey is coming from.  And we bet that's not the same place most residents are coming from, or want to go to.


Gisborne South Freeway Service Centre “Secret Deal” Proposal Made Public

(23/12/05 – P) South Ward Councillor John Letchford goes for it, then against it

MRRA was concerned when Macedon Ranges’ Council went behind closed doors at its 14th December Planning Committee meeting to discuss the Gisborne South Freeway Service Centre issue.   MRRA understands a planning permit issued in 1998 for the northbound service centre has expired, and as VCAT later tied a permit issued for the southbound facility in 2003 to the northbound service centre proceeding, neither proposal seems to have a valid planning permit at this stage.  The only inkling provided to what Council had discussed was when the resolution made behind closed doors was read out in open chamber: “It was moved by Cr Guthrie seconded by Cr Letchford that Council having considered the request of Phillip Bing and Associates request the Chief Executive to advise the applicants that Council has refused this request for the extension of permits P980-0712 and P202-0076. Residents who had fought the proposals were not notified that Council was again considering the matter.  However, the minutes of the 14th December meeting (now adopted by Council and available from its website) shed more light on what happened.   The original motion before Council was to adopt planning officer Barry Green’s recommendation that Council AGREE to renew both permits through a consent order at VCAT.  That motion was moved John Letchford, seconded Noel Harvey but lost.  Cr. Letchford then seconded the motion to REFUSE.  Councillors Relph (knows the applicant) and Connor (manager of a retail petrol station) declared conflicts of interest and did not vote.   To see the minutes go to, go to Council Meetings and Strategies, Council Meetings, Minutes, 2005, Planning Committee 14 December, page 15.